Tumblr: Redefining the Repetition Joke in the Internet Age

Posted by at 9:19PM

On his blog today, David Pogue of the New York Times highlighted the brilliant humor of Amazon.com comments sections of fairly ridiculous products. He writes, “You can say what you like about the Internet—it’s filthy, it’s addictive, it breeds isolation. But man, it’s also the greatest platform for humor the world has ever known.”

While this is quite the lofty statement, the ‘repetition joke’–one based on a consistently reiterated premise–seems to have found a breeding ground on the Web in the form of Tumblr blogs (referred to as the tongue-twisting ‘tumblelog’). Tumblr is an extremely simple blog platform that usually takes the form of a one column vertical blog in which each post consists merely of a picture and a caption. Or, in humor terms, the opportunity for each post to be a joke. The simplicity of Tumblelogs makes them perfect vehicles for a repetition: the blog itself becomes a category, and all the posts are variations on a theme within that category. Quick, easy, and if done right–hilarious.

The concept of simple blog-as-one-joke-pony has certainly been around longer than Tumblr; lolcatz and Cake Wrecks are just two of many comedy blogs based on specific categories that predate Tumblr. The simplicity of Tumblr (plus the ingenuity it seems to attract), however, has made these blogs even more accessible and far easier to read. In just a few minutes, and for free, your joke is out there for the public.

I now present my top 5 Tumblr blogs. Enjoy…

Garfield without Garfield

Garfield without Garfield is “a journey deep into the mind of an isolated young everyman as he fights a losing battle against loneliness and depression in a quiet American suburb.” Really, anything without Garfield is better.

Bread People

Pretty self-explanatory, if you think about it: using Photoshop to make the world a better place. Make sure you go all the way through the old ones–they never get stale.

Cheese People

The header to Cheese People describes the simple, awesome power of Tumblr: “Conceived on sober night in Brooklyn, with a love for our favorite blog Bread People, we bring you the Cheese People.”

Hipster Puppies

Puppies in funny outfits is humorous on its own, but Hipster Puppies’ brilliance comes from the deadpan captions.

Kim Jong Il Looking at Things

Kim Jong Il–how rude! Always staring at things! Or, if you prefer a little meta, try the Stanford-created Kim Jong Il Looking at Kim Jong Il Looking at Things.

Human ingenuity at its finest.


3 Responses to “Tumblr: Redefining the Repetition Joke in the Internet Age”

  1. don’t forget… says:


    so many angry owls. so good

  2. Sam says:

    This one is my favorite: http://www.amazon.com/Mountain-Three-Short-Sleeve-Medium/dp/B000NZW3J8/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=apparel&qid=1293222942&sr=8-1-catcorr

  3. Frank says:

    I think the opposite of this is true. The thing is that with this stuff, anybody can be funny–even unfunny people. You can go on memegenerator.com and if you know the rhythm of the jokes well enough people will think you’re funny. But really there’s no heart to it. (Garfield minus Garfield I would say is an exception.) It’s an inside joke you’re in on with strangers–but the thing about inside jokes is they should come out of memories of friendship, not a super ephemeral cultural memory.


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